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Monday, February 02, 2009

SOMETHING STRANGE


Michael Strange accompanied by Harry Volpes


UNIQUE RECORDS
ULP 125
Circa 1960s


The startling and different (to say the least!) cover of this album may quite possibly cause you to quickly catch your breath...and no doubt, do a double-take...but then, when you hear the music that is packaged beneath the "glamorous" photo of our slightly undernourished friend, you'll probably catch your breath again, for here, you will meet the exciting MICHAEL STRANGE, balladier without peer, and often referred to as the wandering minstrel of the cocktail set. For some twenty, "mike" has captivated the gold coast night club audiences of Miami Beach where he makes his home.

Now in the third year of his engagement, the Irish folk singer is currently appearing at the smart Black Magic Room where he performs nightly to capacity crowds. With a total of eleven languages at his command (he sings in four, speaks in seven others), Mike has compiled a fantastic repertoire over the years of more than 5,000 songs, some of which date back three centuries and can be traced to practically every corner of the globe. With several network television appearances in addition to weekly guest spots in Miami, the guitar-strumming troubadour quickly built a huge and loyal following and "the Strange touch" continues to draw packed houses nightly in the fabulous beach resort. With their first visit to The Black Magic Room, RKO-Unique's talent scouts quickly decided that this unusual entertainer was a talent that should be enjoyed by people everywhere through a showcase of his own. Thus, "SOMETHING STRANGE"... a recorded showcase of folk song fascination.

Sit back, relax, listen, and enjoy the songs of the handsome balladier in this unique collection.

-Larry Meeks


---ABOUT THE ALBUM---

Blending a sincere quality with his rhythmic tones, Michael Strange, accompanied by Harry Volpes on guitar and mandolin, brings to the listener a rare and interesting sound.

The album is comprised of favorites from The Michael Strange repertoire, which offers a variety of material from traditional Irish and English airs to Cole Porter and other outstanding composers.

There is a feeling of intimacy throughout. The moods vary from plaintive to bawdy, special effects being used in the creation of these musical moods, however, simplicity is the theme of "Something Strange".

-Paul Bruun
"Bruun Over Miami"





SIDE A:



THE MOST CHIVALROUS SHARK perfect demonstration of Mike's excellent phrasing in this amusing old English air about a "courteous" man-eating shark who "eats neither woman nor child".

A)ODE TO A BLUE GUITAR / B)WHY DOES A WOMAN CRY a plaintive ballad well-tailored to the imaginative talents of Mr. Strange.

DOWN IN THE DEPTHS OF THE 90TH FLOOR set to a beguine tempo, Mike gives this Cole Porter melody great depth and understanding.

A)RIDDLE / B)THE RIDDLE SONG the tuneful story of a riddle that a maiden must solve before accepting the hand of a knight in marriage.

I WANT TO GO HOME a dramatic ballad given a very warm and poignant reading by the wandering minstrel.

A WOMAN LIKES TO BE TOLD simplicity is the keynote Mike projects in this rarely heard Hoagy Carmichael selection.

CUBAN LOVE SONG the familiar standard about love under a tropic moon, Strange delivers a sensitive and sincere rendition.

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SIDE B:



THE FOX "a hunting we will go, and you're off on a merry chase." Two guitars, soirited wood slapping and maracas are colorful rhythmic ingredients in this humorous English air with calypso overtones.

BELOW THE EQUATOR the added continental touch of Harry Volpes expert mandolin lends a romantic background to this ballad of the tropics.

KEEPER OF THE EDDYSTONE LIGHT a salty old English sea chanty about alighthouse keeper and the woes that beset him.

PLAYING A LOSING GAME the sound of a spinning roulette wheel introduces this ballad of a man "lucky in gambling, unlucky in love".

THE MOUNTAINS OF MOURNE traditional Irish air, "where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down on the sea".

ROCKIN' THE CRADLE in a duet with himself, Mike adds color to this amusing folk ballad about a gentleman seeking parenthood...unique instrumentation of a baby rattle adds authenticity to background.

SOMEBODY ELSE TOOK HER HOME a lilting waltz given a sensitive interpretation by the Irish folk singer...a fitting finale.

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Editor's note: a pretty beat up LP which skips a few times (three, actually) but gets its message across: not very scary! A few songs are rather catchy and you'll find yourself singing them after eating potato salad or in line at the bank. One of my favorite albums on this blog. Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths..." is rather good. Remind me to write this guy's biography someday.

























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